“Toxic masculinity affects not just women but men alike” | WOMEN’S DAY EXCLUSIVE

“Toxic masculinity affects not just women but men alike” | WOMEN’S DAY EXCLUSIVE

Feminism gets a bad rep these days as the majority assumes that all feminism is, is “man-hating” so to speak but it is far from it.

Shubham Mehrotra, Founder of the social awareness campaign, Fifty Shades Of Gay and Laudco Media, India’s first ISO certified, all inclusive digital marketing company, deconstructs the idea of Feminism in today’s world.

Below is the transcript of the speech.

Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me be honest with you, when I was asked to give this speech, I racked my brain to think about what I could say that would make an impact, something that hasn’t been said already and stay away from the cliche talk about empowering women and the significance of women’s day.

Let’s face it Women’s day has become more about brands pushing offers, sales and making inspirational videos to capitalize on this day rather than authorities making significant changes in policies and decisions that affect women.

The problem of gender inequality affects both the sexes and is an issue we have been facing since decades (for a long time). It is a mammoth problem that needs to be dissected and understood; it requires patience, enormous effort and time to bring about actual change. Trying to make a dynamic shift in thought out of the blue or creating a day where “women feel special or appreciated” may not be the answer as we are merely trying to salvage the situation and not addressing to the root of the problem.

“Change begins at home”, I’m sure we’ve all heard this saying and it could not be more true. So this Women’s day I would like to talk about the TRUE meaning of feminism; The moment we raise our boys and girls as equals and not perpetuate the gender stereotypes that have been passed down from generations before, can even begin to think about making a (significant) dent on the issue at hand.

The notion that “women are great at balancing work and make a home at the same time” and we are so amazing for doing so, irks me. Because you know what would be more amazing? If both men AND women share this responsibility of balancing the work at home and the office. It’s not fair that the burden of maintaining both the areas of life fall on one individual.

The answer to this lies in years of conditioned ‘toxic masculinity’, ie stereotypical traits that are associated with men, which includes that of dominance, suppression of emotions  misogyny, homophobia and extreme self-reliance. Phrases such as “Boys don’t cry”, “Mard ko dard nahi hota” and “Boys will be Boys” do more harm to society than we care to admit.   

Toxic masculinity affects not just women but men alike, as we teach men that showing their emotions or being vulnerable makes them “less of a man” which leads to bottling up of emotions and unleashing it an unhealthy way in most cases.

The moment we treat everyone as humans and not reaffirm the typical gender roles, can we move forward and measure tangible effects of our actions. This can only begin with Sex Education.

Sex ed is essential not only at a school level but must be imparted to adults as well. It not only entails “the birds and the bees” talk but also explains gender identity, sexual orientation, masculinity and femininity in a social construct.

Yes, this thought process has been ingrained in our minds since we were little but now that we know better, we must do better. We have to educate ourselves and teach the future generations that merit is above all, not what’s between your legs that dictates your life.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, I urge you, raise your boys and girls the same. Teach your boys how to cook and maintain a house, teach your girls how to fix things around the house or fix a tyre, have them share the same responsibility of taking care of the people at home and taking care of things.

Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

Thank you.

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